Within the quasi-religious fervor that is Trump’s Republican Party, the last remaining vestige of ideology centers around the paradox between the sanctity of life, the inviolable right to kill, and the diabolic evil of taxes.
By David Todd McCarty | Monday, April 12, 2021
Benjamin Franklin once said that the only thing we can be certain of in this life, are death and taxes. It should be noted that he was among those who determined that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were inalienable human rights, and in need of protecting.
This founding principle is at the heart of what it means to be an American. This shared principle, that we have been imbued by our Creator with inherent value and dignity, unfortunately runs contrary to the countless human rights abuses that have taken place on this patch of earth since our founding. Our ancestors committed acts of such atrocity, almost always in the name of God, and with the blessing of church and state, yet here we are, quoting those words as if repeating them regularly enough, will make it so.
Our paradoxical existence might be confusing to outsiders, and even to some of us born to it, but it’s part of what makes us unique as a people. Sort of like our ecclesiastical worship of college athletes along with our incontrovertible refusal to pay them for their labor, and similarly not unlike a nation founded on the backs of slaves while bemoaning the inequity of taxation without representation.
These basic human principles, of the sanctity of life and the evil of taxes, are today at the heart of the Republican Party. That life is sacred, unique and special is a basic human principle, that that heretofore would have been considered beyond contestation in most circles, but which now has become the basis for an entire political ideology, with one small caveat.
Death and taxes. Love and marriage. Guns and abortion. Freedom and slavery. God and money. Glory be to us all, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy rocket’s red glare, not to be used without the expressed, written permission of Major League Baseball and its affiliates.
As has been discussed, in thousands of column inches and hundreds of magazine articles, we did not get to this place merely after electing a buffoonish, reality-tv star and proclaiming he was sent by God. It began with another man we plucked off the silver screen and proceeded to remake in our own image of what American exceptionalism could look like. Ronald Reagan became the first celebrity President that presented an alternate reality for America to ignore the inequities of American life in lieu of a romanticized view of a shining city on a hill. John Wayne as Jesus Christ.
Here we are in the year 2021, and the Republican Party is clinging to what one might call its last remnants of anything resembling a principle: the heretical belief in every man for himself combined with the eternal virtue of marriage; the shared conviction on the sanctity of life, bound to the paradoxical, yet inviolable right, to kill your fellow man. The tax issue isn’t actually an ideological viewpoint at all, but rather a fiscal necessity required to fund their campaign of terror through the court-sponsored alliance of corporate patronage.
For a political party that claims to be rooted in the Judeo-Christian ideology of loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself, they have undoubtedly lost out to the more practical philosophy of Ayn Rand rugged individualism. Jesus has been conquered, not by liberal pluralism, but by the Marlboro Man.
Republicans have convinced their followers that abortion is the great moral cause of their time, because life, created by God, is sacrosanct, while simultaneously promoting unfettered access to weapons designed to kill your neighbor and the death penalty for anyone with the audacity to get caught using one.
It’s not the circle of life that they’re concerned with, but the circle of death.
They’ve turned in their Bibles for automatic weapons, taken the command to feed the poor and heal the sick to mean tax the poor and deny the sick, and love one another has become love one, not the other. If it wasn’t so dangerous, so precarious, so nefarious, it would be hysterical.
Instead, we are living through a return to a sort of cultural dark ages as the hill crumbles and the light fades. The Republican Party, desperate to hold on to power, is grasping at straws because they have nowhere else to go. All their economic theories have proven to be disasters. Money, unlike water, doesn’t trickle down after all, but gets sucked up like a vacuum.
White supremacy has finally begun to falter and wane. Soon Republicans will be at the mercy of the others, forced to share the promise of the American Dream with undesirables. Liberalism, the real founding principle of America, just might finally win out over monarchal traditionalism, and the country will move forward despite being held back by the anchor of our past.
Maybe then we can learn to value the living, embrace diversity, feed the poor, health the sick, live as a community, and remove the hate from our hearts as well as our minds. We don’t need to aspire to being a shining city on a hill, as much as we need to become a village that cares of its own and is generous to visitors and neighbors.
America has never been great. That’s the myth we told ourselves to excuse our atrocities. But we don’t need to be great, we merely need to strive to be good.